The Atlantic

Has the Mueller Probe Hamstrung Trump's Foreign Policy?

Nixon and Clinton managed to get a great deal done of overseas while facing special prosecutors at home, but Trump has more weaknesses than they did.
Source: Manan Vatsyayana / Reuters

President Trump returned from his 12-day trip to Asia Tuesday night, with few major gaffes to answer for but few accomplishments to show for it, either—a fact he underscored with a strange “what I did on my fall vacation” speech Wednesday that failed to produce the “major” announcement he’d promised.

Trump headed out on his trip shortly after Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s first indictments and guilty plea, and the administration expressed some concern about that. “He worries about his ability to negotiate with various entities and how much he’s hamstrung by this,” a senior White House official told CNN, adding that Trump felt he’d be in a better position once the investigation was resolved.

Unfortunately for Trump, that could be months or years down the line. How will that affect his ability to conduct foreign policy? The record of previous presidents facing probes like Mueller’s shows that in fact they have turned to global affairs as a forum where they can make a difference and get things done even as domestic politics becomes

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic5 min readPolitics
How Can Congress Authorize War When It Can’t Decide What War Is?
There’s bipartisan agreement that the law governing America’s wars needs an update. There’s also bipartisan agreement that it won’t happen anytime soon.
The Atlantic10 min readPolitics
Elizabeth Warren Has Momentum. Can She Build a Movement?
The senator from Massachusetts is on the verge of turning her campaign into something much larger.
The Atlantic9 min read
They Tried to Start a Church Without God. For a While, It Worked.
Secular organizers started their own congregations. But to succeed, they need to do a better job of imitating religion.